On Sunday morning, thousands of runners of all ages enjoyed Central Park in all its autumn splendor at Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s Fred’s Team Presents Grete’s Great Gallop. The fun run, half-marathon, and kids’ races celebrate two NYRR icons, Grete Waitz and Fred Lebow. For many, the half-marathon was a final tune-up race and benchmark for the ING New York City Marathon, which is coming up on November 3.
Christian Thompson of the NJ/NY Track Club won the half marathon in 1:06.29, and he needed every ounce of energy to do it; West Side Runners brought the next five runners across the finish line to dominate yet another club points race. Clubs compete in 10 different age/gender categories in a year-long series, and the top teams are honored annually at NYRR Club Night. Club standings will be updated soon.
“We were duking it out for the last 10K,” said Thompson of his battle with eventual runner-up Mengistu Tabor Nebsi (1:06:35). “Coming to the finish, I just started going. I turned around and he wasn't right there.” Tariku Aboset Bokan finished third in 1:07:07.
The first female finisher was Alexandra Cadicamo in 1:20:19. She paced the New York Athletic Club to a clean-sweep team victory; her NYAC teammates Emily Mareb (1:21:52) and Jayne Grebinski (1:22:17) were second and third.
Both Cadicamo and Thompson will run the ING New York City Marathon on November 3, and both will be first-timers there. For them and many others, today’s half-marathon (13.1 miles) was an opportunity to gauge fitness and build excitement for the 26.2-mile, five-borough journey.
“I kept telling myself, ‘Dress rehearsal for the New York Marathon.’ That’s what got me through,” said Caid.
“I have that sense of, ‘I have no clue,’” Thompson said of the upcoming marathon. “You never know what’s going to happen in a race that long.”
The namesake of today’s event, Grete Waitz, is a running legend who made her mark by dominating in that race; she was a nine-time champion.
“She won nine times—I just want to try and compete for one!” said Sam Loussedes.
“And by compete we don’t mean win, we mean finish!” added his brother, P.J. Today was the brothers’ first race ever.
The event is presented by Fred’s Team; the fundraising program has raised more than $50 million for research and treatment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center research since 1995. Jeff Rochford has been the team's head coach since 2003.
“Grete was so humble. She would never mention her own achievements, she was just a team supporter,” said Rochford, who finished in 2:10:59 today.
With many families and supporters lining the sidewalks and that familiar fall crispness faintly arriving, Marathon Sunday felt thrillingly close.